WASHINGTON – Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements on Jan. 30 to celebrate Fred Korematsu Day:
Fred Korematsu (1919-2005) was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “By challenging the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, Fred Korematsu served as a beacon of hope during an otherwise shameful time in our nation’s history. His courageous actions cemented his legacy as a civil rights icon, and his story reminds us that we must always be vigilant in protecting the civil rights of all Americans. This is especially true now more than ever with President Trump’s abhorrent executive order targeting immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. These shameful actions are fueled by the same hysteria and prejudice that led to Japanese American internment during World War II, but we must not allow history to repeat itself.
“As President Trump implements his Muslim ban and targets immigrants and other minority communities, Korematsu Day is also a reminder of the importance of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee this week. I urge my Senate colleagues from both parties to resist nominees that will provide legal justification for oppression. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to opposing discrimination and speaking out against intolerance and injustice whenever it occurs.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “In the face of overwhelming prejudice and adversity, Fred Korematsu stood up for the civil rights of 120,000 Japanese Americans, then spent the rest of his life fighting for justice. Today, Fred’s work is more relevant than ever. We will not stand to see this dark period of xenophobia and hysteria repeated.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC whip: “As a Japanese American, I am thankful for the tireless work of Fred Korematsu to fight for civil rights and racial justice. He challenged the injustices of Japanese incarceration during World War II, first by personal resistance and later through the courts. A lifelong activist, Fred Korematsu worked to dismantle bigotry and discrimination and protect the freedoms of all Americans. As we honor his legacy today, I urge all of us to follow his example and recommit to protecting and defending American ideals.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “Today, let us all celebrate and recognize Fred Korematsu’s life-long fight for justice and civil liberty. He is a man whose legacy of opposing internment and racial discrimination is particularly significant and relevant today. Our country and world is a better place because a man named Fred Korematsu, small in stature but undefiant in will, stood up for his and our constitutional rights.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “I am proud to join the entire East Bay in celebrating Fred Korematsu Day, in memory of a courageous and principled fighter for justice who stood against the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Fred Korematsu challenged our government and our entire nation to stand against racial prejudice, and to resist efforts to deny civil rights to any group on that basis. We must continue to learn from the tragedy of this period of American history, and proclaim loudly as he did: ‘Never Again’.”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): “Today we honor the life of Fred Korematsu, a man who challenged the constitutionality of his internment during WWII, and fought to keep the United States accountable to its promise of liberty and equality. Although initially unsuccessful before the Supreme Court, Korematsu and the many allies he inspired eventually succeeded in overturning his conviction many years after his internment. Korematsu’s courage and dedication to justice paved the way for a generation of civil rights activists. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we strive to honor Korematsu’s legacy through the Seattle University of Law Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and the continued fight for justice for all.”
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.): “We owe our humanity and legacy of resistance to civil rights leaders of all generations as they shoulder the resistance for causes beyond than their being. Fred Korematsu is one such hero a Mr. Korematsu stood up for thousands of Japanese men and women victimized by bigotry and discrimination, and even in the face of adversity, refused to give up his fight for dignity and justice. We continue this fight today and must remain ever vigilant and inspired by civil rights leaders of our past and present to speak up for the voiceless and protect the rights of everyone.”
CAPAC is composed of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. It has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.